Nancy Natale: Reflections and Shadows

Summer Solos, Part 1: Brenda Goodman   
Summer Solos, Part 2: Debra Ramsay  
Summer Solos, Part 3: Helen Miranda Wilson
Summer Solos, Part 4: Karen Schifano

On a recent trip to Boston’s Arden Gallery, I had a chance to visit a splendid solo exhibition of work by Nancy Natale. Based in Western Massachusetts but known nationally through her work and her blog, Natale has created two-dimensional mixed-media constructions that would fall under the rubric of painting (she describes them as bricolage), but which embody the luminous translucence of stained glass, pieced in the manner of quilting, and "stitched" together with canvas tacks in the manner of a cobbler. The multiplicity of references is mirrored by the sheer volume of visual activity in each work.

Shimmer,  2014, mixed media, 48 x 36 inches

In viewing the work however, what matters is the way light appears to flow across the surface, or how inserts of copper or other metal intensify an existing glow. Those tacks, hammered at regular intervals but not rigorously measured, not only hold the whole thing in place but also create vertical polyrhythms against the horizontality of the pieced composition. So add a suggestion of music to the energetic mix.

Installation views at Arden Gallery
Above left: Red Pair, with Cugat and Montalban;  right, Shimmer
(Sculpture is by Michelle Knox)

Below: Shimmer and All Good Intentions

Closer examination reveals a trove of “reading material”—book spines and pages, some cut-up album covers, even paintings. In a blog post about her work, Natale writes, “I began thinking of this series as a collection of memories, organized not consecutively or to relate a narrative, but rather as strokes of paint on a canvas. Memory jumps around sometimes and juxtaposes yesterday's movie with the crush you had on a movie star at age 12.”

Green Shade, 2014, mixed media, 36 x 36 inches

Installation with Green Shade several smaller works 

You can read more on Natale's blog.  

The exhibition is up through August 30. Be sure to visit Kim Bernard’s solo exhibition in the front gallery and (insert shameless plug here) a peek into the back room, where the work of gallery artists, including my own, is on salon-style display.


Summer Solos, Part 4: Karen Schifano

Summer Solos, Part 1: Brenda Goodman   
Summer Solos, Part 2: Debra Ramsay  
Summer Solos, Part 3: Helen Miranda Wilson

I don't get to DUMBO often, but when I do I'm always struck by its 19th Century quality--the low buildings, cobblestone streets, and short walk to the East River (even though traffic is passing clamorously overhead on the Manhattan Bridge).

A corner of the gallery space with six gouaches on paper

In a similar way, there's something of an old-fashioned feel to the Melville House publishing company, and I mean that in a good way. Instead of a a 40th floor location in a steel-and-class building in the canyons of Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, it's a glass-fronted historic brick building on Plymouth Street, under the bridge. Books are set on wooden tables in the from room, which doubles as a gallery space, while editorial work take place in the back. It's quiet, and the room offers plenty of daylight for art viewing.

The art on exhibition is by Karen Schifano, whose reductive paintings pack a lot into their mid-side proportions. A previous series dealt with passages into or through implied space. In this new work, forms suggestive of cartoon thought balloons seem to hover slightly away from the picture plane. Schifano places rings or circles within these shapes, which themselves hover, or which conversely offer a glimpse into the space behind the flatness.  And then, because the shapes have that thought-balloon quality, there's the suggestion of dialogue.

Installation view

Below: Wide Open,  2014, acrylic on canvas

The show, curated by Emily Berger, is up through September 19. Info here

"Karen's work is inventive, intelligent and beautiful with a subtle sense of humor as well," says Berger, who is herself a painter. "I am very happy to have had this opportunity to feature her work at Melville House, thanks to Director of the Melville House Gallery, Jim Osman."

All of the Above on far wall

Additional notes:
. Schifano has on exhibition now a selection of small works on paper at Some Walls, in Oakland, California, an exhibition-and-essay project founded and curated by artist Chris Ashley, which is open by appointment
. DUMBO is home to a number of galleries on Front Street, including A.I.R., Minus Space, and Stephen Romano
. Look for the Trust Your Vision mural by Gilf at the anchorage of the Manhattan Bridge


Summer Solos, Part 3: Helen Miranda Wilson

Summer Solos, Part 1: Brenda Goodman   
Summer Solos, Part 2: Debra Ramsay

The Albert Merola Gallery is a lovely small space in Provincetown’s East End, perfect for showing small (and sometimes not so small) work. The tiny back gallery was the perfect setting—intimate and quietfor Helen Miranda Wilson’s modestly scaled gouaches in an exhibition titled Wavy, Wiggly Ones. 

Still life with painting and postcard
Mexicana, 2011, gouache on paper, 8 x 7 inches

After painting landscapes and other images of the natural world for some years, Wilson turned to abstraction about a decade ago. Her paintings are nevertheless teeming with allusions to and invocations of the rhythms, vibrations and cycles of an observed environment. (A Cape Cod native, she keeps bees, and as a member of her town’s Shellfish Advisory Board is keenly aware of coastal life and cycles.)

Panorama of three walls
Click image for a larger view

I’m smitten with Wilson’s color, rendered fluid and rich in gouache. I’m posting this report to follow the one on Debra Ramsay. While both artists make work about what they observe in nature, the results are quite different; however the range and depth of their observation—and indeed, their palette—would appear to share common roots.

 Raga, 2009, gouache on paper, 8 x 10 inches sans frame
This and the following images from the gallery's website 

Temple Way, 2009, gouache on paper, 6.5 x 8 inches

Sargasso Sea, 2011, gouache on paper, 8 x 10 inches

I've written about Wilson's work before, which you can read herehere and here


Color as Structure at McKenzie Fine Art

Summer Solos, Part 1: Brenda Goodman   
Summer Solos, Part 2: Debra Ramsay

I've got two more Summer Solo posts waiting in the wings, but here I want to show your some images from the splendid show Color as Structure, which is on view at McKenzie Fine Art  on the Lower East Side through Saturday, August 2.

Panorama of the gallery
(click to enlarge)

In an exhibition of wall-hung work, gallerist Valerie McKenzie has selected 16 artists for whom color and structure intertwine, either to create a suggestion of dimensional space or to invigorate a planar surface with pattern, repetition, or optical effects.

We're going to follow the arc of the panoramic view shown at the top of the post. Here, Kate Shepherd, Paul Corio, four by Jason Karolak

Kate Shepherd: Chunk Logo, laser-cut screen print

Paul Corio: Megalicious, acrylic on canvas

Continuing our tour of the front gallery: Karolak, Rob De Oude on the left wall; Don Voisine on near facing wall, center right; Cordy Ryman; a glimpse of Elise Ferguson, right

While all of the works are strong individually and offer a cogent visual narrative as installed, I found myself drawn to the conversations between and among certain works.  For instance, the linear dimensionality of Jason Karolak's architectural compositions offer an airy counterpoint to Deborah Zlotsky's weighty shapes inhabiting a similar pictorial space (scroll to see her work).

Jason Karolak: Clockwise from upper left, Untitled (P-1406), Untitled (P-1403), Untitled (P-1402), Untitled (P-1405), all oil on canvas over panel

Rob De Oude:  Cloud Computing/3, oil on panel

 Don Voisine: Time Piece, oil on woodpanel

Don Voisine anchors two walls with geometric paintings flat as can be, which open up to reward the viewer with a dip into their chromatic and compositional depths. And I am taken with a corner conversation between Elise Ferguson's fresco-like painting, suggestive of a mural fragment, and Martha Clippinger's shaped construction, both with knife-sharp angles and intersections.

Swinging around to the right: Elise Ferguson, Martha Clippinger, Holly Miller

Elise Ferguson: NW, pigmented plaster on MDF
Image from the gallery website

Martha Clippinger: Converge, acrylic and oil on wood
Image from the gallery website

Continuing the arc of the front gallery: Miller, De Oude, Deborah Zlotsky

Deborah Zlotsky: Indoor Voice, oil on canvas
Image from the gallery website

Let's venture into the middle and back galleries . . .

Richard Roth: A trifecta of color and structure

Relief sculptures--or are they sculptural paintings?--by Richard Roth punctuate the planar rhythm of the installation with striped and stacked color that slides around to the sides of the box-like constructions. Their modest proportions are perfect for what's taking place visually on each one, and for the way the artist's ideas jump from one to the other. The visual repartee with Mel Bernstine's flat but architectural paintings is snappy and smart.

There's more, which you'll will see as you scroll--or, better, if you get to the gallery to see for yourself.

Richard Roth: Still Under the Influence acrylic on birch plywood

Above: Still Pairing
Below: Slap Happy

Mel Bernstine: Feminina, acrylic on linen

View from the back gallery looking toward the front, with from left, Richard Roth, Richard Caldicott, Mel Bernstine

Turning again to face the backmost part of the gallery: Holly Miller, Kate Shepherd, Paul Corio, Don Voisine

Holly Miller: Bend #7, acrylic and thread on canvas
Image from the gallery website

Don Voisine: Aeriel, oil on wood panel

On the right wall of the back gallery: Alan Biltereyst, Cordy Ryman, Maureen McQuillan

Alan Biltereyst, 2/0/12, acrylic on wood panel

Cordy Ryman, Back of the Beam, encaustic on wood

Maureen McQuillan,  Untitled (DR6/5), Untitled (DS/N&X), Untitled (DS/U6X), all ink and acrylic polymer on museum board

Closer view of center work, Untitled (DS/N7X)
Image from the gallery website

Below: Detail of the structure 

There are some works for which images will not suffice, even with details. McQuillan's paintings are a case in point. Layers of ink and acrylic polymer are built up by the artist to have an optical depth far greater than the material itself. Rob De Oude, who paints in oil with the thinnest of brushes on a flat surface, weaves a network of layers to atmospheric effect. Holly Miller imbues her geometries with thread.

Continuing along the back gallery, looking toward the front with work by Richard Garrison and Cordy Ryman
Image from the gallery website

Richard Garrison: Circular Color Scheme: Walmart, October 1-16, 2010, Page 1, Everyday Low Prices on your Holiday Favorites,  watercolor, gouache and graphite on paper
Image from the gallery website

A look back with another view of Cordy Ryman's MOD 45 Green/Blue Text (a),  acrylic on wood

You can see additional installation views of the exhibition, as well as individual views of each work and information about them here


Summer Solos, Part 2: Debra Ramsay


When is a walk in the woods not just a walk in the woods? When Debra Ramsay records each color she sees. The tangible result of such a walk is at Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden/Pocket Utopia in Chelsea, up through August 1.

Debra Ramsay's window installation on West 22nd Street

A walk in the woods, repeated seasonally as the colors change, is transposed into a grid of 72 silk squares, each painted with a hue from nature. There is a bit of the prayer flag about them, which seems entirely appropriate, allowing us to acknowledge something larger than ourselves. That we view them from a city sidewalk is not so much ironic as it is connective, a way to bring the experience to us (or us to the experience)

Two details from the installation

View from the High Line: Ramsay posted this on her Facebook page, and I knew I had to share it with you here